The Sydney winter school holidays are always the hardest holidays to entertain kids. With a strong possibility of cold days needing to be spent indoors, I always recommend families book into at least one activity where possible so there is a guarantee of a fun day out where no one is freezing.
During the Sydney June school holidays, I highly suggest taking kids to see Thai-riffic!presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company. The show is an adaptation of the Oliver Phommavanh book by the same name.
The show faithfully brings the beloved Thai-riffic! book to life, along with the humour and pathos that made the book a classic story of growing up and trying to fit in.
Thai-riffic! is very much a tale of the challenges many kids face when growing up: the search for acceptance, struggling with cultural identity and learning to love yourself for who you really are.
Sick of being his father’s curry guinea pig, Lengy longs to eat pizza and transform his image from the kid who lives in a Thai restaurant to a cool and popular Aussie teen.
At school, Lengy tries to hide his Thai background in order to fit in. However he finds that his past can’t be escaped when his teacher sets a group assignment that focuses on culture, and Lengy’s best friend decides to become Thai for a day for the project! Through a series of hilarious incidents Lengy comes to the realisation that being Thai is actually pretty awesome after all.
Thai-riffic!, aproduction by The Theatre Division is presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company at the fully accessible Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre.
Monkey Baa are Australia’s widest-reaching touring company, having conducted over 25 national tours to 135 regional and remote communities across every state and territory of Australia, 3 international tours and over 2,500 performances, and engaged with 1.3 million young people.
Make a day of it Monkey Baa usually has free craft activities and books inside the foyer for kids to enjoy prior to the show. You can also get lunch at a nearby cafe or bring your own to picnic on the grass if the day is fine.
The Darling Quarter Playground is right outside the theatre, a great spot for kids of all ages although it can get very busy so keep a close eye on kids.
Getting there Catch the train to Town Hall and walk down to the theatre or, if you’re driving, park at the Darling Quarter Car Park (weekend rates are excellent).
“I can see a fairy!” the children scream as a pair of wingers flutter through the trees. We are sitting on a picnic blanket in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden waiting for the performance of Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land to begin. The stage is the lawn in front of us, a fitting location for a production about the adventures of fairies.
The fairies flutter to the “stage” and the show kicks off with catchy songs sung by gorgeously costumed and very talented fairies. The children are captivated seeing their dreams come to life before them – real fairies in a real garden! The adults relax and enjoy their children’s joy.
This is a “theatre” where there’s no need to hush your little one or beg them to sit still in a seat. Dancing is allowed, interaction encouraged. This production is a dream come true not just for kids but for their parents, too. With age appropriate content, gentle music and a relaxed environment, this is a show for families to truly enjoy themselves.
Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land arrived in Sydney for the Easter holidays fresh from a sell out tour in London’s Kew Garden. Created by the award winning artistic director of the Australian Shakespeare Company, Glenn Elston, Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies was imagined especially for a young audience after years of experience creating theatre in magical garden settings.
The storyline for the show is simple: the adventurous Tinkerbell happens upon the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Travelling from the Dream Land, the cheeky Mustardseed, fluttery Moth, daring Cobweb and sweet Peasblossom all go on a magical quest with Tinkerbell to find her wings, learning about the different worlds they are from along the way.
Plenty of upbeat songs and dances pepper the show, with simple actions the young audience are able to follow. The fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream drop in and out of Shakespearean language which lends a poetic tone to the dialogue, but amazingly in a way that the children were still able to understand and be engaged by what was going on in front of them. I would call this a young child’s first introduction to Shakespeare!
There is no set seating for this performance, just a large space to throw down a picnic blanket to enjoy the show. After about half an hour of singing and dancing, the fairies encourage the children to join them on a seperate part of the lawn where bubble machines are set up.
There is much bubble-popping and dancing by the children, followed by forming small groups to assist the fairies in their quest to find Tinkerbell’s wings. How lovely for kids to join in the action rather than being forced to sit for an entire performance! It was not at all surprising to read afterwards that the show was developed with early learning experts to ensure it truly engages and inspires young minds and bodies.
After the show the fairies returned to meet their fans and have a photo opp. These talented young performers gave an enchanting performance that many of these children will remember for a long time to come.
Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Dates: Sunday 9 to Sunday 30 April Times: 10am & 12.30pm (No Shows Good Friday/Easter Monday) No Shows (Monday 24 – Friday 28 April) Prices: $25 for weekday/Sunday performances; $30 Saturdays Group price 4 tickets $90 weekday/Sundays & Saturday $110 Bookings: shakespeareaustralia.com.au and ticketmaster.com.au Cash and card sales available at the on-site box office unless sold out, box office opens one hour prior to each performance.
We were provided with tickets for reviewing purposes. All opinions my own. Additional images courtesy of Shakespeareaustralia.com.au.
A mischievous wombat called Mothball has stolen our hearts. While we have known Mothball for years through the multi award-winning picture book, Diary of a Wombat, seeing her live before us on stage really makes this iconic wombat a real, three-dimensional character that we can dream of cuddling, tickling and rousing on for her naughty behaviour.
Monkey Baa Theatre Company has lovingly brought Mothball to life in their new production Diary of a Wombat, which is based on the book of the same name by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.
If you’re new to the story, Diary of a Wombat is the perfect way for kids to meet Mothball, the naughtiest wombat in Australia. She’s a bit bored of her daily routine, so goes on a little adventure to find food and shelter, creating absolute chaos for the humans who happen to live nearby.
The show follows the same simple storyline as the book. Each day of the week, Mothball destroys doormats, bins and washing lines in her search for happiness. Through her busy schedule of sleeping, scratching and generally disturbing the peace, Mothball discovers that humans will do pretty much anything for a big of peace and quiet!
This gorgeous production is everything a performance for kids should be. It has a quiet poetry about it, with almost no dialogue and the only sound for the most part being the exquisite live cello that joins the characters on stage.
There are moments of quiet, joy, chaos and humour – a wide range of emotions beautifully communicated through the expressive wombat puppet paired with its emotive cello accompaniment.
According to my five-year-old reviewer, “The show is really funny. I like when she scratched and dug a hole in the door, and when she turned around and you could see her bum.” There you have it, from the mouths of babes: this show is a winner for the little kid theatre set.
Diary of a Wombat was created by Monkey Baa Director, Eva Di Cesare, with a team of artists including Puppetry and Movement Director, Alice Osborne (the Puppetry & Movement Director onWar Horse 2012/13), Designer Imogen Ross (Hitler’s Daughter) and accomplished composer/cellist, Oonagh Sherrard.
You can catch Diary of a Wombat on its national tour, where it will be performed in 59 venues. Get all the tour dates online.
If you’re in Sydney, the show is playing during the school holidays at the Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre: 18 – 24 April / 27 May
Time: 10.30am & 12.30pm Relaxed performance 20 April, 12.30pm Suitable for ages 3+ Duration: 45 minutes Tickets: (no booking fees) $29 (adult/child), $104 (family of four), $125 (family of five), $25 each (groups 10+) $19 (relaxed performance)
Join the maddest tea party in town this summer, with the Sydney Opera House’s brand new tea party with a twist – The Funatorium.
Directed by former Circus Oz Artistic Director, Mike Finch, the Funatorium is a wild show for kids full of top talents from the worlds of circus and cabaret.
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic story, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the Funatorium is a completely immersive, engaging and absolutely crazy cabaret that is designed to enthral the littlest guests and leave them wondering if what they’ve seen on stage is magic or trickery, or just absolute mayhem.
Kids who love the story will adore seeing some of their favourite characters brought to life, such as the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Red Queen. Those who aren’t familiar with the story will still enjoy the show immensely however, as, just as the tea party in Alice in Wonderland is a manic array of nonsense, so to is this one. It’s funny, silly and breathtaking as a stand alone show.
The feverish blend of acrobatics, juggling, singing, hula-hooping, balancing, aerial acts, singing and comedic acts is the perfect mix of charm, delirium and total chaos. So, basically, the most perfect tea party a kid (or their parent!) could imagine.
Tips For Attending The Funatorium
Most searing is General Admission. Queues begin to form about 45 minutes before the show starts, so I would advise lining up early to get good seats.
Kids hungry? The snack bar has a Mad Hatter’s Kids’ Tea available for $15 that includes a juice box, small cupcake, popcorn, fruit and Smarties.
If you’re coming in on a week day, the cheapest option is bus and train to Circular Quay. On weekends, use Book-A-Bay to get a cheaper parking spot under the Sydney Opera House.
Give the kids plenty of time before and after the show to enjoy the free Summer Playground, which is run both inside and outside the Playhouse until January 29, 2017 and includes plenty of large games and a large sandpit.
The Funatorium January 7 – 22nd, 2017
Recommended for ages 5 and up
The Studio, Sydney Opera House Buy Tickets
Thank you so much to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us. All opinions are our own.
These school holidays, treat the kids to Swamp Juice, the award-winning show that’s toured the world and is now coming to Sydney this January.
Swamp Juice is a ridiculously fun shadow puppetry show for kids aged seven and up. It was a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with theatre critics calling the show “ Innovative” and “memorable”, from the Times, and “Breathtaking… Wonderfully enchanting… A heartwarming, funny show for children of all ages”, from the Evening Standard.
The show creatively makes shadow puppets out of bits of rubbish and household objects to tell the story of bickering snails, a neurotic snake and an opera singing mouse with a jaw-dropping 3D finale! This is a swamp like no other!
Swamp Juice is presented in Australia by Monkey Baa Theatre Company, based at the Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre in Sydney. We’ve been seeing their excellent productions for the past two years, and are always impressed by the exciting, inventive and fun shows that they put on for kids.
Monkey Baa is actually Australia’s widest-reaching touring company, having conducted over 25 national tours to 135 regional and remote communities across every state and territory of Australia, 3 international tours and over 2,500 performances, and engaged with 1.2 million young people. It’s Monkey Baa’s goal to provide young people with fantastic theatre experiences no matter where they live or what their economic situation might be.
The company is also passionate about showcasing Australian cultures and stories, and work hard to create shows that offer young people a truly multifaceted reflection of the world we all inhabit.
A Bunk Puppets production, presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company
Where: Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre, Terrace 3, 1-25 Harbour Street, Sydney (opposite the Darling Quarter children’s playground)
When: 17 – 21 January, 10.30am & 12.30pm
Suitable for: ages 7+
Duration: 55 minutes
Tickets: $29 adult/child; $104 family of 4; $125 family of 5
After the show, check out the Darling Quarter playground directly opposite the theatre and enjoy lunch in one of the area’s many cafes, or bring a picnic and enjoy it in the sun on one of the many green areas.
This article was produced in conjunction with the Monkey Baa Theatre Company. All opinions are, as always, my own. We genuinely love their productions and think readers will enjoy their new show.
Room On The Broom is a classic story, written by Australian author Julia Donaldson. The story has been adapted into a gorgeous stage show that has returned this December to the Sydney Opera House to wow children and their accompanying adults with its wit, joy and fun.
The very simple story of a witch and her cat who are happily flying on their broom until a stormy wind blows the witch’s hat, bow and wand away is a lyrical adventure performed with clever dialogue and catchy songs by a colourful cast of endearing characters.
This lively performance with gorgeous puppetry takes the audience on a delightful journey to find the lost things, make new friends, and come face-to-face with a dragon.
Along the way, the characters learn the importance of friendship, sticking together and realise that there is, in fact, room on the broom for everyone. A very simple story with an important message for us all. No matter our kind or creed, there is room for us all.
Room On The Broom is a highly engaging show for children ages three and up. Limited seats are still available to its two remaining shows.
Room On The Broom Sydney Opera House Dates: 9 – 23 December Prices: Standard $30 – $40, Insiders $24 – $32 (Booking fee applies per transaction) Tickets: sydneyoperahouse.com
We were guests of the Sydney Opera House for reviewing purposes, and were under no obligation to write about our experience. Both the kid and I really enjoyed this show and highly recommend it.
From the creators of the biggest-selling magic show internationally, The Illusionists, and the award-winning puppeteers of War Horse comes Circus 1903, a show that blends the best of both predecessors into a breathtaking performance inspired by the golden age of circus.
This all-age show features turn-of-the-century circus acts with a modern twist. Authentic period costumes and careful set design combined with dangerous and jaw-dropping acts left this theatre goer and her five-year-old daughter completely captivated, often gaping in awe, and occasionally hiding behind our hands when some of the more thrilling acts were being performed.
The cast of talented performers have been sourced from all over the globe – strong men, contortionists, acrobats, knife throwers, high wire and tumblers. So much incredible talent left our hands numb from clapping and cheering.
Traditional circuses of this era used live performing animals such as elephants – an incredibly inhumane practice that is thankfully dying out. Circus 1903 does an excellent job of paying homage to the magnificent animals that spent their lives entertaining the public through incredibly innovative puppetry.
To say that the moment with the enormous elephant puppets on stage is show stopping would be an understatement. The clever puppeteers did a tremendous job bringing these enormous pachyderms to life, creating true works of art that are beautifully nostalgic as well as exciting to watch.
This is a truly captivating circus extravaganza that is perfect for audiences of all ages.
Q: Is this family friendly? Can I bring my kids?
A: Absolutely. This is a show for all ages!
Q: Does Circus 1903 feature a live elephant?
A: No. The elephants featured in Circus 1903 are puppets, brought to life by the talented team at Significant Object (the award-winning puppeteers from War Horse). Circus 1903 is a very unique show in that it takes aspects of the traditional circus but puts a fresh, innovative and more humane spin on them. One of those new directions is using carefully constructed and realistic puppets in place of actual animals.
CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House Sunday, December 18 – Thursday December 29, 2016. Prices: Standard from $74.90, child from $48.90 (plus transaction fee of $5 – $8.50per order) Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or sydneyoperahouse.com More Info: sydneyoperahouse.com/whatson/circus_1903 or circus1903.com
We attended the show as guests and under no obligation to promote or write about it. We generally absolutely loved the show.
“We’re going to the circus!” I announce to my five-year-old daughter, wanting to surprise her with a special treat. “Not with animals?” she looks at me somewhat confused. “No, with people!” I explain. “Ahhh, acrobats!” she crows, delighted at her good fortune of being taken on a special date, just the two of us.
“Will there be tightrope walkers? And jugglers?” she asks, her only point of reference for a circus a traditional one from well before the time she was born. “Ummmm,” I reply, not sure how to answer. When you’re going to watch Cirque Du Soleil, all expectations on what you’re actually going to see on stage go out the window. It could be literally any physical feat, and usually more bizarre than your imagination can dream up. “I guess we’ll see,” I finally say, and off we go to the big top in Sydney’s Moore Park, and excitedly take our seats.
Cirque Du Soleil has been wowing audiences with electrifying shows since their humble beginnings as a group of 20 street performers in Baie-Saint-Paul, a small town near Quebec City, in Canada. The band of colourful characters entertained people on the streets with stilt-walking, juggling, dancing, breathing fire, and playing live music. Old-school circus acts, performed with what would become their trademark drama and flair.
The company is still based in Quebec, and now has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from around 50 countries around the world. They’re performed in over 300 cities in over 40 countries on six continents – and tonight, they’re in Sydney, Australia.
Much to my delight, Kooza pays homage to Cirque Du Soleil’s traditional circus roots with a combination of acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The acts my daughter mentioned? They’re all there and she is thrilled. Stilt-walkers, jugglers, dancers, contortionists and tight-rope walkers. Every single circus act we could have possible hoped for was entwined in Kooza’s thrilling story of an Innocent’s discovery of light and dark magic.
Kooza cleverly weaves a tale about discovery, fear and power through a jam-packed show filled with acrobatic acts and tension-breaking light humour. The central character, The Innocent, is our guide on a journey of thrills, suspense and moments where our hearts almost stop watching the death-defying feats in front of our eyes.
While the adult in me sees the occasional safety gear go up for some of the more terrifying acts, my daughter is focussed only on the action and is genuinely worried about the well-being of the acrobats. “That doesn’t look very safe,” she whispers in my ear as a man dressed as the devil jumps on top of a spinning “wheel of death” that soars right to the top of the tent roof and proceeds to flip into the air.
She’s right – it’s part of the show’s illusion to make every act look effortless, while tapping into our sub conscious desire to see how far a human body can be pushed before it breaks. Will they fall? In a few spots, they almost do, and a collective gasp goes up in the audience to see a wobble or slight slip. They are fragile human beings and this is real life, not a movie with trick photography at work. If they fall it’s a long way down.
I point out the safety net that springs up when the tightrope walkers get particularly daring, and the hook that is attached to the man who balances with one hand on top 10 chairs to show her there is nothing to fear. “Even if they fall, they’ll be ok,” I whisper back, and she lets out the biggest sigh of relief I’ve heard from her, and spends the rest of the show pointing out the safety equipment to me, so I won’t be scared either.
The show draws to its close and I realise I’ve been holding my breath for much of it, perched on the edge of my seat. For two hours, we’ve been thoroughly immersed in a fantastical dreamscape world where acrobats are able to do the impossible – perform tricks that my mind can’t comprehend as possible for a human body to be able to do.
My daughter, after her first circus experience ever, is forever changed. Her world has expanded and her imagination unlocked. She’s seen with her own eyes the heights and athletic ability that a human body can reach, and the daring that some souls possess to push themselves past limits the rest of us would quite frankly baulk at. She is among many children in the tent, the next generation who are growing up with Cirque Du Soleil being the the only circus they’re likely to experience.
The audience leaves the tent uplifted and with stars in their eyes. We’ve seen great things today and will tell our friends about that time we saw a man leap aboard a spinning wheel of death and survive what looks impossible, or about the lady who spun from a hoop high in the air, saved from plummeting to the ground only by her neck. It’s the kind of stuff you never forget that you’ve seen.
My five-year-old wants to run away and join the circus. Come to think of it, so do I. We’d better start working on our acts.
Tips for seeing Kooza by Cirque Du Soleil
Parking at the Entertainment Quarter is actually quite reasonable. 3-4 hours is only $10.
If you’re taking kids, ask for a booster seat when you enter the seating pavilion.
Bathrooms are outside the pavilion so go beforehand.
Find your seats at least 10 minutes before the show starts so you don’t miss the pre-show entertainment.
The best place to see the show is smack bang right in the middle of the front section as this is where much of the action faces. Don’t fret if you’ve already bought tickets on the side though as the whole show is still visible from the entire ring.
The show is quite long for littles to sit through – an hour and a bit for the first half, followed by a 30 minute interval and then 45 minutes for the 2nd half.
If you are considering taking little ones, be aware that there are loud noises at times and a few scary themes like skeletons.
Water is provided for free near the bar areas so you can take your own water bottle as long as it’s not glass, and refill it.
Snacks and drinks are permitted into the pavilion.
Catch KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil in a city near you:
Sydney – Now playing until November 13 2016, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park
Brisbane – From November 24 2016, Skygate Brisbane Airport (near DFO)
Melbourne – From January 20 2017, Flemington Racecourse
Perth – From April 13 2017, Belmont Park Racecourse, Victoria Park Drive (off Farmer Freeway), Burswood
Tickets at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza
Thank you Cirque Du Soleil for tickets to see the show. All opinions are my own.
We were very fortunate to receive tickets to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House.
We arrived with time to spare and given that the Opera House is such a special venue, my kids had a little treat before the show. Some Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes. A little steep at $5 each however both kids devoured the whole cupcake (they normally just eat the top!) and sadly, I did not get a chance for a pic or a taste. For the sugar conscious there was not too much icing on the top.
I really had no expectations for the show and did not get a chance to watch the promo video. The book by Eric Carle is a favourite at home and we have read it many times over the years. I was also a bit apprehensive to attend the show on my own with Miss 5 and Mr 2.8 year old. However, the moment the show started my kids along with everyone else were captivated. They enjoyed every part, interacting and participating with the actors and the charming puppets.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was an amazing production where everything was created with kids in mind. The stories were beautifully presented through the stage, the music and the puppets. It exceeded my expectations as I had no idea that the production would cover three more of Eric Carles’ books: ‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse’, ‘Mister Seahorse’ and ‘The Very Lonely Firefly’. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and Mister Seahorse were my little man’s favourite in terms of the puppets and stage props. He kept pointing out and repeating the names of all the animals and the fish. Clapping with excitement after each one left the stage.
And of course the final story ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ had most of the kids and adults reciting the lines from the book with the actors. Naturally, the ending was Miss 5’s favourite part.
My only very minor negative was with my 2.8 year old getting restless in the last 10 minutes of the show. However, the puppets and I managed to contain him.
Overall, I highly recommend anyone with children aged 2 to 5 years to go and see this wonderful production. It is my favourite kids show so far and I would take my youngest to see it when it comes back again.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is playing at the Sydney Opera House until October 9, 2016.
Thank you so much to the Sydney Opera House for tickets for reviewing purposes. The show is absolutely magical and all opinions are the writer’s own. Additional show images courtesy of the Sydney Opera House.
Take a walk on the wild side with a show 65 million years in the making. Dinosaurs once again roam the world thanks to the magic that is Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo.
During this educational and entertaining show, kids have the opportunity to get up close to prehistoric creatures that have been discovered in Australia such as the Australovenator, AKA the cute baby dinos that make the crowd go “Awwwww” and the Meganeura, an insect from the Carboniferous period (approximately 300 million years ago), which looked like a mammoth dragonfly.
Scientific facts fly hard and fast during the show, and the audience has to think fast to keep up. Dinosaur devotees will be thrilled to learn about these lesser-known Aussie dinos, in the most entertaining way possible – through first-hand experience.
The real genius of Erth’s Dinosaur is creative way in which they blend fun and fact. Give a kid a lecture on dinosaur history and they’ll probably doze off. Give them a dinosaur to pat on the head, and they’ll be entranced for hours.
And it’s not just the kids who can’t take their eyes off the dinosaurs. Watching these incredibly realistic creatures walk around the stage is an entertaining experience for the adults, too.
With its mix of kid jokes and adult humour, audience participation and a deliciously scary moment or two, it’s hard to tell who enjoyed the show more – the kids or their parents. It’s easy to see why Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is a hit of sauropod proportions.
Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is recommend for ages 5 and up. I would heartily agree with this recommendation due to language (lots of big words that littlies won’t understand) and also a truly terrifying carnivore.
Stick around after the show to enjoy the free activities for kids offered by The Seymour Centre, including The Owls Apprentice by Little Wings Puppets, a beautiful show combining shadow puppetry, hand puppetry and storytelling, Polyglot Theatre’s Forest Feast, where children will create a feast of food from craft items, and Ants, an interactive roving performance where human-sized ants and children work together in a gentle and unusual landscaping project.
Catch Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo at the Seymour Centre Dates: 27, 28, 29, 30 Sept and 1 Oct, two shows a day: 10.30am and 12.30pm Prices: All tickets $22 available via Box Office (02) 9351 7940 or http://www.seymourcentre.com Address: The Seymour Centre – Corner of City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale
Full School Holidays Program: http://www.seymourcentre.com.au
I received tickets to Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo for reviewing purposes. I absolutely loved the show and all opinions written here are my honest feedback.